Posted in Anxiety/Mental Health/Stress Management, Reviews, TV Shows

13 Reasons Why: Netflix Original Review

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You caught me reviewing ANOTHER Netflix original but what else would you expect from that master procrastinating student with a Netflix subscription? If there’s procrastination to be done, it will ALWAYS involve a glance at what can be watched on Netflix.

First point I would like to make, it is obvious right from the start that this TV show has a strong theme around someone committing suicide so if you are easily triggered by things like that, then this might be one you wish to avoid.

Before even getting into the first episode I can establish that I already love the graphics displayed at the start of the episode. The show appears to have a high school setting which reminds me of the typical American high school drama for teenagers.

I can be easily distracted and just to follow that trait I became distracted by the song playing at the start of the first episode and began to focus more on that than the main character Hannah, who was talking over the top so I had to rewind to re-cap.

Music is life for me, I live and breathe music and therefore when I hear a song that I like that I haven’t heard before, I become mesmerised in this song and focus more on the song than anything else which surrounds it.

The whole atmosphere makes me think of when I was at high school which is heightened by the fact that there is a teacher with the same name as one of my old high school teachers.

When Clay’s friend offers him a ride home, the car and the way the friend is dressed seems to remind me of Danny from Grease in a negative way although he seems better put together than Danny was in Grease.

Things seem weird between Clay and his Dad in the sense that it seems much more professional than a father/son relationship should be. I can relate to this in one sense because I don’t exactly get on well with my Dad but in the other sense it puts a question in my mind as to why it is so professional between them.

I think if I got home to find a random box full of numbered tapes outside my front door with my name on, I would be slightly more curious as to where they came from and perhaps slightly more hesitant to listen to them at first without trying to investigate.

Watching this, I feel a little old. I remember having cassette tapes as a child and I like the way they have conveyed the story a step back in time like this.

Again, I find myself able to relate to the show in the fact that when Hannah says the truth is the least popular story about her. Whenever I was being bullied in high school, the truth was always never spoken about as lies spread made better stories about a person than the truth did.

I don’t like the way in which in episode three the story is then told through the character’s as I prefer it when it is Hannah’s words and then it shows the other character’s story.

I love the fact each episode is named by the what tape and side they are on with the reasons as to why Hannah killed herself as its original and makes it easier to follow.

One thing 13 Reasons Why teaches viewers is that if you are a not very nice person, you will always get what is coming to you.

I feel as if every new TV show these days have clear evidence of product placement and this is no difference with the constant use of beats headphones.

13 Reasons Why reinforces the purpose on offering support to vulnerable people/those with mental health issues, depression or suicidal thoughts.

In Episode 7: Tape 4, Side A Hannah says “You’re going to tell me this one’s no big deal.” – When it comes to mental health, EVERYTHING is a big deal.

This show really makes you think about mental health and the way in which so much goes unnoticed or not spoken about because of the heavy stigma attached.

In episode 7: Tape 4, Side A it is also shown that Hannah puts a question the class discussion bag asking “What if the only way not to feel bad is to stop feeling anything at all forever?” After this is read out to the class, the first person to say their thoughts on this is that whoever wrote it is an attention seeker, another person thinks its a joke and a third thinks its a cry for help.

This is unfortunately an accurate representation of the mental health stigma in this country. When people do speak out about needing help mentally, they can be branded as attention seeking or as if they are joking instead of being taken seriously.

This indicates that we need to take an active role in changing this perception of mental health and making it less of a taboo subject to talk about. I am really glad Netflix decided to turn this into a TV show as I feel as if the more we highlight and talk about the realities of mental health, the more people will feel as if they are not alone and we can hopefully encourage them to speak about it.

I love the way in which, as Hannah is telling the story of her death, what we see on screen is split between a replica of what she describes on her tapes and the aftermath of her death.

By showing the viewer only what Hannah conveys, it leads you to question: Is everything Hannah is saying accurate? As the season goes on, we begin to get a sense that not everything Hannah says may be the truth, our first major indication of this being when Zach shows Clay that he still has the letter Hannah wrote and din’t throw it away like Hannah states he does.

It seems as if once Hannah dies, everyone left behind that was somehow the cause of her death always have an ulterior motif when it comes to the tapes and it never has anything to do with the remembrance of Hannah or trying to put their wrongs to right. It tends to be more about saving themselves from liability. This only changes at the very end.

I absolutely love the fact that they put content warnings where people may be triggered or too young to watch when needed and really respect them for doing this as I know sometimes TV shows won’t do that because it will turn some viewers away.

Suicide has the power to destroy the lives of those left behind so I believe it is crucial having shows like these to highlight the issue and hopefully encourage anyone who feels suicidal to seek help.

I wasn’t expecting the show to end where it did, I also wasn’t expecting tape 13 to be the person whom it was. The show had me hooked right from the start & contained plot twists right to the very end which held my attention.

I would definitely recommend this show to others and feel that it makes you think more about mental health and suicide and the fact that you never know the full extent of what someone else may be going through. Don’t spend your life bringing others down cause you have no idea what it may lead to!

A final thing – the soundtrack is amazing. Throughout the show, I found myself getting immersed completely in not only the plot but also the music. A great show through and through and definitely one that made me think.

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5-stars

Posted in TV Shows

The Returned: Netflix Original Review

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Okay, yes, I spend way too much time on Netflix when I should be working on Uni assignments, but it will get done eventually!

When I read the blurb of this TV show I knew it was definitely one that I couldn’t miss.

One of the first things I noticed about this series which I absolutely love is that Mark Pellegrino is cast as Camille’s father. I first saw Mark as Lucifer in Supernatural and fell in love with the actor. I love being able to see him in a different role and I still think his acting is superb.

The Returned has a dark sense of story and plot that only gets darker but it grows on you as the series goes on. I felt myself begin to feel emotionally involved with the characters as if I had known them for years through the clever portrayal of their stories.

I love how each episode shows the story of a different character rather than focusing on the same character and that character’s point of view.

As the story develops, the plot gets more and more sinister from Lena getting ill with the same marks on her back from when Camille died to Adam being the one to find Lena when she runs off from Camille. At this moment it looks like he will attack her and we can’t be clear of his intentions.

One thing is for sure: It may seem amazing to get a dead loved one back but it will always come with consequences no matter what.

This show brings around the realisation that it is not natural for people to come back once they are dead and if they do come back they will be a changed person. Many of us have a loved one we would do anything to have back but what would happen if they came back a different person?

The show makes you realise that perhaps it is a good thing there isn’t a way to bring back the deceased as it can cause catastrophic consequences for those whom the dead person comes back to.

Another thing this show teaches viewers is to be careful what you wish for. Lucy pretended she could communicate with the dead in order to con money out of Jack, and then when she wakes up in the hospital, she can.

Highlighted is the brutal reality of what an un-timed, unexpected death can do to a person and a family and how it can make those left behind perceive life in a different way. It must be difficult adapting and containing the feelings once Jack & Claire get their daughter back seeing as they had already mourned her loss.

The Returned makes you realise how lucky you are to be alive, healthy and have a loving family as some people do not have that and an unexpected death can ruin lives.

Every time someone from the dead is brought back, they cause harm to those still alive. Even if they don’t cause harm, they cause a black cloud to follow their loved ones until something bad happens.

Every time someone returns from the dead, another person seems to die. The Returned shows that you can’t escape the natural order of life otherwise things will begin to turn bad.

The plot entices you in & throws unexpected twists into the plot to keep the viewer intrigued and interested. Rising from the dead will always come with a consequence in The Returned.

The ending was timed perfectly, just the way I feel a season should end. It left you itching for more. One thing I will say now, when you search for The Returned on Netflix you will find three different options. This one which is the Netflix original, then there’s a second tv show of The Returned with two seasons instead of one then there is a film.

I couldn’t tell you if this remake is better than the older tv show, but I did really enjoy this although I did feel there was something missing, I’m not quite sure what.

If you’ve seen this, what was your thoughts on the show? If you’ve seen both this and the older tv show, which is better and why?

3-stars

Posted in TV Shows

A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1 Review (Netflix Original)

WARNING: Major show spoilers from this point onward, you have been warned!

It has been a long anticipated TV Show since the initial announcement that Netflix would be producing a TV show based on the children’s novel series with the same name.

Ever since I first watched the original film based on the same books, I was hooked on the story line and the plot just left me wanting more. I couldn’t help but feel that the film was completely short lived considering the fact that the film only portrayed the first three books when there are in fact thirteen books in the series.

Naturally, I of course was excited when I found out about this new TV series based on the books and its like my childhood wish of wanting more of the series came true.

From initially looking at the episode titles, I couldn’t help but wonder that two episodes for each book did seem like they were trying to condense the series a little. From the initial first few minutes I noticed the ever so catchy new theme song invented specifically for this series.

I actually really loved the theme song as I believed it to be catchy and fresh which showed that the producers were dedicated to creating something as original as possible right from the start rather than copying the already released film.

The biggest problem that I have when it comes to TV show adaptations of an already released film is adapting to a new cast. More often than not, I struggle to adapt to a new cast and more often than not I end up hating that cast and comparing them to the previous cast which I end up loving better.

For me, this series started off all the same. Throughout the first episode, I was mentally comparing it to the film and what I liked better about each character. At first I didn’t like the way that Klaus was portrayed and I thought that Violet looked too young for her age. I actually thought that Sunny was cast perfectly.

As I got into episode two and three, the new cast began to grow on me. I had adapted to Klaus and Violet but I was still not keen on the casting of Mr Poe, not because of the change of race from the film but because he just didn’t seem right for the character.

From the start of the series I have loved the new involvement of Lemony Snicket and how he is now more directly involved in the story line seeing as he is the narrator. I completely love the casting of him and feel that Patrick is perfect for the role. I also love the casting of Count Olaf and feel that they have got him just right.

I also love how we actually get to see Gustav on screen in this series seeing as in the original film we didn’t which always left me wondering more about the character of Gustav. I like how the series is exploring the unexplained character’s although I don’t quite know what the significance of the role of Jacquelyn is meant to be. She does seem slightly out of place but I like how the series portrays some sort of figure looking over the children and am excited to see how her role will play out or if its just a short term role.

I was slightly disappointed about the way in which episode two ended in the sense that they ended the bad beginning with Violet simply revealing that the marriage was void because she signed with her left hand when she is actually right handed. For such an inventor and avid reader, I felt this ending for the bad beginning was a bit of a cop out and out of character for the children’s personality traits. I know the point is that they are trying to be different from the film version, but I feel that it would of had a better effect if the way out of the marriage was more creative like it is in the film.

Upon being first introduced to Uncle Monty, I yet again don’t initially like the casting. Not necessarily the actor in question but more the way in which he is being portrayed. Uncle Monty, is a scientist who is very smart and intelligent. I find that here he is being portrayed as more dumb and laid back. I don’t know if this is because I am used to the original film casting or not.

In this series, I feel that the race of Uncle Monty was more representative of how I viewed the character originally. I feel that this imagination of Uncle Monty is more accurate in terms of how I thought he should be portrayed despite him being portrayed as dumb and more laid back. I also feel his house is the perfect representation of how I thought it should look.

As episode three goes on, yet again I begin to warm to the casting of Uncle Monty and realize that he is no longer being portrayed as dumb but feel that this should have been more accurately represented from the moment we met his character on screen.

I like how in this series they have taken an original spin on the Peru story line. From watching the film, I always thought that the fact that they were going to Peru was out of place as if it had just been thrown into the plot for no reason. In the film version, Uncle Monty announced they were going to Peru as soon as the Baudelaire children arrived which made it seem suspect and suspicious. It made me wonder why they were going to Peru and why it was just randomly thrown into the story line.

In this series, I much prefer how there is a build up to this and instead there is a reason present as to why they are going to Peru: because they are in danger from Count Olaf. I love the fact that Gustav and Jacquelyn are looking out for the children and making sure they are safe.

One thought that stays present throughout the Season is that Violet looks too young to be fourteen years of age here. The actress does portray her effectively, but her age doesn’t look believable when you look at her.

I love the fact that the series has introduced some new characters such as Jacquelyn and the guy that works at the Anxious Clown when Count Olaf first approaches to help develop the story out in areas that otherwise seemed incomplete. I don’t like when Sunny suggests “Uber?” when the siblings are trying to work out which restaurant Captain Sham is going to because the story line would have been set before Uber existed so it seems out of place.

Another thing is, when Aunt Josephine is supposed to have jumped out the window, it doesn’t actually look very convincing seeing as the shape that is left in the window looks more like the shape Count Olaf would make if he was to jump out a window. In the film, it was portrayed in a way which made it look like she had actually killed herself until we later found out that instead she had tricked Olaf and left a secret message for the siblings. It also doesn’t make very much sense that Olaf in disguise as Captain Sham would have Aunt Josephine jump out a window when the Baudelaire children were still in the house.

MAJOR PLOT TWIST:

Up until episode seven we were questioning who the mysterious couple were that kept cropping up throughout the series, the couple who were flying a plane above lake lachrymose right at the moment the Baudelaire children were sinking. That wasn’t just me that was wondering that right? Well up until this point I was 100% convinced that it was the Baudelaire children’s parents and that they weren’t really dead and had covered it up.

I really wanted to believe that it was their parents coming to rescue them and reveal that they were in fact alive. Then episode seven ended. BOOM!

I wasn’t expecting that. The way in which the couple turned out to be a completely different group of kids parents, a group of kids we had not previously even heard of yet alone been introduced to. I really like the way in which this part of the story line was portrayed. With everything I know about A Series of Unfortunate Events by now, I should have known not to believe this couple was their parents. I should have known not to be fooled, but I was fooled.

This part of the story line was portrayed in a very clever and effective way that gave away no clues until the bombshell was revealed. I generally think this was a very smart and clever addition to the series in order to make it stand out from the 2004 film of the same name. This idea added a new element of hope and excitement to the viewers only to swipe the rug out from underneath our feet once the truth was revealed. The use of clever camera actions and words made me believe right until the last minute that it was the children’s parents and that they hadn’t actually died. But of course, I should know by now, this series doesn’t have a happy ending, we can take that from the name.

Another thing that I love about this new series based on the books by Daniel Handler that kind of ties in with my love of the theme song is the fact that each book’s equivalent two episodes has a unique opener. Instead of simply using the same theme song and same opener throughout the series, they adapt it so that each book’s equivalent has an addition which focuses on that specific books equivalent.

Another thing is for sure, Count Olaf is getting better at these disguises, the woman Shirley is the best one he’s came up with yet, but not good enough to fool the Baudelaire’s or the viewers.

I feel that the producers found a great place to finish season one on. They gave a snippet of what happens after Aunt Josephine’s guardianship which wasn’t explored in the film but not too much to give away the story, just enough to keep the viewer wanting more.

The season ends leaving us with many questions on our mind. Who is  Jacquelyn? What is her significance? How does she know the Baudelaire’s parents and Gustav? Who are the mysterious couple with the three children? How do they know the Baudelaire’s parents. How are all these people connected? What is the story behind their organisation? The list of questions goes on…

Overall the first series of A Series of Unfortunate Events has began to satisfy that craving for more that I have had since first watching the film. I always hated how the film seemed to be lacking something because it was cut so short. The show is filmed in a way that leaves me still wanting more and with loads of questions I would like the answer to. The show also adds a refreshing spin on the tale of the Baudelaire children although I do feel that at certain points they try too hard to be different. I am definitely excited to see what else is to come in season 2 and I am sure that it will continue to be exciting! Overall I generally think this is one show that is worth the watch!

This has generally been one of the most exciting shows I have watched in a long time but there are areas where I feel it could have been improved.

4-5stars